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Ocean-lapped Japan wary of China's continental power

By Lian Degui (Global Times)

08:17, August 09, 2012

(Global Times/ Sun Ying)

Japan's foreign policy has seen some adjustments recently. Japan is stressing the importance of its alliance with the US, both regionally and globally.

As a result, Japan has taken a hard-line on the Diaoyu Islands. It also raised the issue of boosting military capabilities in the southwest island chains in its latest Defense White Paper, which considered China to be Japan's biggest security threat. Japan has also pushed forward military cooperation agreements with the Philippines and South Korea, though the process has encountered some setbacks.

These national strategic adjustments are linked to Japan's status as an oceanic nation, surrounded by the sea. Scholars of geopolitics have raised the idea that oceanic countries and continental countries naturally tend to confront each other.

The core of the idea is that oceanic countries form alliances to counter the threat of the greater land strength of continental countries by controlling the "rimland," the maritime fringe of a continent.

The sense of sea power, though challenged by the concepts of Greater East Asia and East Asian Cooperation after World War II, still plays an influential role in Japan.

In Japan's eyes, China, a continental country, will threaten the security of oceanic countries. Since the Democratic Party of Japan took office in 2009, it has defined China as "a matter of concern" for Asia and the international community.

Japan has also listed its southwest island chains closest to China as a key point for national defense, shifting its strategy southwestward. The chains include the Diaoyu Islands. That's why Japan has made a fuss in the region recently.

Meanwhile, Japan is trying to get closer to the US. Despite its size, the US is an oceanic country, projecting its power into the world's two great oceans, and there's a common diplomatic idea that oceanic countries should form an alliance to contend with continental countries.
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